Union Institute & University Celebrates National Commencement

Union Institute & University’s national commencement was a time of celebration. Over 77 graduates joined the 52-year legacy of highly motivated adults positioned to pursue professional goals and a lifetime of learning, service, and social responsibility on Saturday, October 8 at theHilton Netherland Plaza in Cincinnati.

Undergraduate commencers graduated with a bachelor of art or science in the following disciplines: Psychology, Forensics Psychology, Criminal Justice Management; Global Studies, History, & Culture; Environmental Studies & Sustainability, Psychology & Human Development, Psychology with a concentration in Addictions Studies, Arts, Writing & Literature, Comparative Religion and Psychology, Social Work, Business Management, Business Administration, Leadership, Maternal Child Health: Lactation Consulting, Emergency Services Management, Early Childhood Studies, and Organizational Management.

Master of Arts commencers represented several areas of concentration including Health & Wellness; History & Culture; Clinical Mental Health Counseling; Leadership, Public Policy & Social Issues; Psychology; Counseling Psychology; Creativity Studies; Literature & Writing; Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Clinical Mental Health Counseling with a certificate in Alcohol & Drug Abuse Counseling; and Organizational Leadership.

Union’s doctoral commencers earned degrees in the areas of Philosophy (Ph.D.), Education (Ed.D.) and Psychology (Psy.D.).

The keynote was delivered by Congresswoman Alma S. Adams, Ph.D., representative to the U.S. Congress from North Carolina. Her speech was entitled, “Rethink Possible: Stay in the Game.” Dr. Adams told the former students they had invested their time in improving their lives by taking advantage of the many diverse academic offerings at Union and now they were ready to lead their families and communities into the future and to higher plateaus. She commended the graduates and recognized them for rethinking what was possible and staying in the game.

The presentation of awards was presented in the following areas and to the following faculty and students:

Marvin B. Sussman Doctoral Award

Long-time UI&U faculty advisor and philanthropist Dr. Marvin Sussman established the Marvin B. Sussman Award to honor a recent UI&U graduate whose doctoral dissertation is judged to be clearly outstanding in terms of originality, interdisciplinary, social meaning, writing, and overall presentation. A committee of UI&U faculty and administrators nominate and select an annual recipient based on the quality of research and the impact his or her studies will have within the community at large.

2016 Marvin B. Sussman Doctoral Award


Shanon Sterringer, Ph.D., 2016. Empowered by the Living Light: Who Was the 12th Century Nun, Hildegard of Bingen and What Does She Have to Say to Ecclesial Leadership Today?

Dissertation Committee Chair: Dr. James E. Henderson


Elizabeth Aiossa, Ph.D., 2015. RePresenting the Zombie: Genre, Gender, and Social Protest from Romero’s Night of the Living Dead to AMC’s The Walking Dead.

Dissertation Committee Chair: Dr. Christopher J. Voparil

Anita Fowler, Ph.D., 2016.A TribalCrit Perspective on Mohegan Casinos: A Case Study of Assimilation, Sovereignty, and Leadership.

Dissertation Committee Chair: Dr. Lois Ruskai Melina

Lisa Ann Newton, Ph.D., 2016. An Investigation of Cultural Intergenerational Trauma or Collective Traumatic Memory as a Social, Economic Barrier for African American Women Entrepreneurs in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Dissertation Committee Chair: Dr. Carol Barrett

Ryan Schowen, Ph.D., 2015. Precarity and Affective Labor: Toward a Spatial Ecology of Dispossession.

Dissertation Committee Chair: Dr. Christopher J. Voparil

Marlon A. Smith, Ph.D., 2016. Reshaping the Beloved Community: The Experiences of Black Male Felons and Their Impact on Black Radical Traditions.

Dissertation Committee Chair: Dr. Colleen C. O’Brien

Union Institute & University Faculty Awards

 The Faculty Awards program provides peer recognition for exemplary efforts and achievements in the areas of teaching, service, and scholarship. This program recognizes that all Union faculty members exhibit commendatory effort on behalf of their students and their professions, and provides an opportunity for faculty members to recognize, on a regular basis, exemplary efforts on behalf of their peers. The awards for Excellence in Teaching are made annually; the awards for Excellence in Scholarship and Excellence in Service are made bi-annually, in alternate years.

2016 Award for Excellence in Teaching


Christopher J. Voparil, Ph.D.,Faculty, Ph. D. in Interdisciplinary Studies program

Recipients of the Certificate of Distinction for Excellence in Teaching

Sarah G. Bergh, Ph.D., Faculty, Master of Arts and Bachelor’s program
Anna Blair, Ph.D.,Faculty, Master of Arts and Bachelor’s programs
Andrew J. Harvey, Ed.D., Bachelor of Science program, Criminal Justice Management major

2016 Award for Excellence in Service

Andrew J. Harvey, Ed.D., Bachelor of Science program, Criminal Justice Management major
Diane Richards-Allerdyce, Ph.D Faculty, Ph. D. in Interdisciplinary Studies program

Recipient of the Certificate of Distinction for Excellence in Service

Thomas Frederick, Ph.D Faculty, Bachelor’s programs

Herbert L. and Dr. Beth I. Alswanger Gopman Research Fund

USeeded by a generous donation from Dr. Beth Alswanger Gopman (Ph.D., 2009), this fund supports the research, scholarly activity, and research-based teaching projects of UI&U faculty and administrators. In providing for further professional development of faculty and staff, the Gopman Research Fund encourages excellence in teaching and supports the university’s continued vision to provide students with engaging, enlightening, and empowering education. Lifelong philanthropists, the Gopmans are deeply involved in their local community and staunch supporters of higher education at every level. While at Union, Dr. Gopman explored the needs of children with mental and physical disabilities, and developed a pilot study focused on the positive and natural socialization of siblings of special needs children within school settings.


2011 – Joseph Nolan, Ph.D Faculty, Doctor of Education program

2013 – Woden S. Teachout, Ph.D Faculty, Master of Arts program

2015 – Thomas Frederick, Ph.D Faculty, Bachelor’s programs; Frank Scala, M.Ed., Faculty, Bachelor’s programs and Chair, Education major; Robert Cotter, M.Ed., Director of Information Technology and Director, Center for Teaching and Learning

2016 – Christopher J. Voparil, Ph.D Faculty, Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies program

Pictures of the 2016 National Commencement: Share your #UIUgrad photos with us!